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city centre reality check

By Mitchell Chess

It seems lots of people like to speak with no knowledge base.  Mr. Mallow seems to be the prime offender, although obviously he is not alone.

These are the facts that are not disputed:

The sign belonged to the merchants and was taken down and destroyed by the city.  The city has confirmed this in the past and we have that documentation.

The city owns the concourse. 

State laws give tenants specific rights in absence of lease documents to the contrary.

The city has never given us a lease, despite multiple requests for one.

What is in dispute is who is responsible for what.  We keep trying to negotiate these points and the city keeps stalling hoping to never resolve them.  We believe we have certain responsibilities and believe the city, as concourse owner has others.  The city may have another view, but we can't get any meaningful negotiation to even know what that is.

We have been misled and need resolution.  Mr. Mallow has poisoned any possibility of negotiation. That is why the law suit is being filed.

For those of you who rent, would you expect to make structural changes, such as a new roof?  I would guess not.  Would you have been patient enough to wait years.  I think not.  We have gone out of our way to work with the city.  Unfortunately some of the representatives of the city, especially  Mr. Mallow ,just want to stay in the papers without allowing for any resolution.

Mr. Roach also disappoints me.  I assume this relates to some political aspirations.  Prior to this year he was our advocate.  Reputation is something valuable.  One should not sell it cheaply.  Perhaps you can think this out before continuing, or at least speak with us to see both sides.


Charlie Mallow

Attacking me wasn't a good move, it will put you even further behind.

You attacked our city manager and attorney who have been trying to work with you in a public way. You held a stageshow for the press and it backfired. You should have bargained in good faith instead of trying to get in the paper. As for who is causing lawsuits and public specticals, look in the mirror.

I will only vote for a final solution.

Aug 11, 2008, 6:46pm Permalink
John Roach

Dr. Chess,
My problem with the mall has nothing to do with my political aspirations, if I have any; it has to do with tax payer money. The mall problems will end up in court since the Mall Merchant Association (MMA) wants a never ending public funding of a white elephant. How many businesses now in the Mall were even there when this deal was made besides Penny’s and the theater? It was never intended that the city would be on the hook for the concourse forever. It was expected that the business owners would be successful and take it over. The city only agreed to take care of some maintenance to give them time to get off the ground. Instead, they crashed into the ground.

I still believe that if people like ex Councilwoman Chris Fix had listened to you, and allowed you to expand and buy the vacant property you wanted, the mall might have recovered, but they were short sighted and put City Hall there.

You should notice this current fuss started when Councilman Bob Bialkowski, a part time mall employee, refused to excuse himself from a Mall vote. His unethical decision started it and then Councilman Cox started suggesting that the tax payers clean bird crap off the roof, which was never intended in the original mall agreement. I still refer people to your practice and I actually shop in the Mall! Not too often, because there is not much there, but I do.

Aug 11, 2008, 8:09pm Permalink
Charlie Mallow

John brings up a good point. Everyone in my family including myself has been to your office. I support mall businesses regularly. It’s amazing to me, you would chose to thank us consumers by suing our city and insulting our city staff in the paper.

Aug 11, 2008, 9:55pm Permalink
Conor Flynn

Dr. Chess, I've heard you're a smart man. Have fun dealing with these people. You make more sense than the council has for the last couple months. Don't worry, you're not alone. Many people in Batavia disapprove of the current council, but you will not see that evidenced on this site.

Aug 11, 2008, 9:55pm Permalink
Charlie Mallow

I didn’t become a councilperson to make friends, it was to make this community a better place to live with my family.

Aug 11, 2008, 9:52pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Conor, I'm not sure if I want the implication of your comment to go unanswered ... I don't think we've shown any favoritism to the current council (I think Mr. Mallow would back us up here). That's not to say we're against the current council or any of its members.

If there aren't many anti-council voices on this site, it's because they've chosen to remain silent, not because of any position The Batavian has taken.

If we ever become pro-council or anti-council, you'll know it, but we prefer to operate on an issue-by-issue basis.

Aug 11, 2008, 10:04pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

And ... I should add ... I'm not even agreeing that there is widespread dissatisfaction with the current council. If there is, there is no evidence of it that I've seen. If there is, why haven't they made themselves known?

Anti-council people are just as free to comment or post blog items as pro-council people (if the non-elected officials here can even be characterized as pro-council).

Aug 11, 2008, 10:07pm Permalink
Charlie Mallow

For the life of me, I just don't understand what Conor is saying about this pro-anti Council talk. Dr. Chess made metion of a 5-4 divide on council in the paper, when he was trashing the city manager as well. This council is made up of most of the same people from the last. We argue and bicker at times but, it's usually in good spirit. This council hasn't held a vote that wasn't at least 7-2. If there is mass dissatisfaction, I don't see it. People don't like the bickering, I don't like it either but, it is part of the process. Like I said before over and over again, cleaning up debt and correcting past mistakes doesn't make you a whole lot of friends. But, Conor I still do have a lot of friends and get a lot of pats on the back. There is a lot of positives that come with the negatives in this job. It's not thankless.

Oh, to backup what Howard says. I have not liked everything that Philip and Howard have said since they started. They know when I don't and they get a pat on the back when I do. Either way, I like the open debate and I come to listen to what people think. I even enjoy hearing from Conor.

Aug 11, 2008, 11:41pm Permalink
Timothy Paine

Dr. Chess says that the sign belonged to the MMA. If I'm correct, the sign was erected before there was an MMA. Did the MMA buy a sign before they even existed? He also refers NYS tenant rights. Mrs. Bialkowski supplied me with the 1989 agreement and I don't see where they apply. The problem with the current deal is it's really ambiguous. It doesn't say much at all, really. Before we dump more taxpayer dollars into this building we need to get things clear. I grant you that I'm not a lawyer but I can read. Clearly what we have now doesn't work, hasn't worked and will most likely never work. This is why we must look at what will stop costing us more tax money. The mall is nearly 30 years old and we spend $20,000 a year. Now we are supposed to drop nearly another quarter million dollars, sell it for next to nothing and give tax breaks? So I'm supposed to, as a taxpayer, support a huge bond then basically give it all away? Like I said, I'm not a lawyer, but even to a high school educated person like me this makes no sense what so ever. I think it's time for the City to stop caving in and do what's best for the taxpayers.

Aug 12, 2008, 8:37am Permalink
Mitchell Chess

Other than many of the same points, I see nothing positive coming from these postings. The city side, mostly Mr. Mallow, grandstands without any constructive discussion. We are still open to discussions, but are no longer optimistic that the city has intention of coming to a resolution. The merchants taking over the concourse was a city proposal, not ours, so portraying that we want the city to "give" us the concourse is foolish.

Mr. Paine, who sits in on our meetings up until 2 weeks ago was one of our supporters. If the city has info that could change his mind, I am surprised we were not given the same information. Rather I think Mr. Paine has become a politica hack.

Mr. Roach, I appreciate your comments and support. I am dissapointed that you take these public stands with only half of the information. Please speak with me so your future comments could at least show balance. I have in the past always respected your comments and you know I have been one of your supporters as well.

The appearance the city presents is one of anti-business. Most businesses are moving out of the city to the town, weakening the tax base. While these discussions should not be hidden, they should not have been made public as we are discussing sensitive subjects until we came to some agreements. At that point if council desired public input a proposal could be given for discussion. What Mr. Mallow has done is opened up free season on mall bashing. There is no focused discussin, so no good can come even if the discussion were turned in our favor.

Please grow up, be a leader, and have an open discussion. Give a formal proposal that can then be discussed and then voted on. Everything so far has degenerated into personal attacks (mostly between council members). Personal council disputes, if not based on an issue, should remain in executive session.

Aug 12, 2008, 8:57am Permalink
Timothy Paine

Dr. Chess, I have spoken about fact. The very first meeting I came to I asked what you wanted from the City. I don't deal in name calling, belittling, or grandstanding. For a Doctor to call me a political hack shows me that my high school education has served me well. I have kept this civil. You told me to my face you wanted tax breaks. I asked you a direct question and was given, what I thought, was a direct answer. I have made up nothing, I have lobbed no bombs, or even stooped to calling names. My focus is not on Doctors or politicians or those who use their higher education to make quirky smart remarks. My focus has always and only been on my kids future tax burden. I'm a big boy, I don't even care what gets put on me for taxes. I care about my kids. I don't suck up to people, I don't kiss ass and I certainly don't say things because it's what someone wants to hear. Where have I lied about what you said to me? How much are you willing to pay for the Concourse? How much are you willing to pay in property taxes? How much are you willing to contribute to repairs? How much are you willing to pay for snow removal and parking lot resurfacing? I know I haven't spoken to one person outside those meetings that wants to pay one more dime for you and the Mall, not one! You go ahead and call me a hack if you want. I'll sleep just fine. Also, what do you mean by "up until two weeks ago"?

Aug 12, 2008, 9:42am Permalink
Charlie Mallow

Dr. Chess, let me say this as clear as I can. The city has a negotiator, his name is Jason Molino. If you want to negotiate, give him a call. He is open to the idea. I have no authority to negotiate with you and will not do so. I have not received a proposal that is acceptable to our City Manager so, there is nothing to bring before council. Your intent was to make this issue political and find council people who were inexperienced to say things to put the city in a poor bargaining position. Our city government is lead by a non-political City Manager. Council only takes action at the end so; I’m not interested in discussing the details of your issues publically or otherwise.

Jason believed he was negotiating with the MMA in good faith. You held an MMA meeting last week, Dr. Chess. At that public meeting you told the world you couldn’t negotiate with Jason and insulted him publically. If you are serious, do the right thing and negotiate instead of attacking people.

You made this problem public; you have made mistakes and are bringing down public pressure on the MMA merchants.

Aug 12, 2008, 9:49am Permalink
Mark Potwora

Tim Paine seems to have the best take on all this..i too have not noticed any name calling on his part..Dr.Chess i do not know you, but you do seem to like to call names .Do you think because you set up shop in the mall you should get special treatment on your taxes..I choose to live in Batavia should i get a tax break for that..Should the city give the MMA special treatment because they choose to locate in the mall..Do homeowners in Batavia get special treatment to live here..My street and sidewalk are in disrepair..Do i sue the city .The concourse is the city's problem like you stated.So if they tear that part out, you wouldn't have to worry about repairs to it.Would that be a good solution for you.Do you realize that the city doesn't want to be in the mall business .The city is broke,the tax payers have had enough of paying for ball parks,ice rinks,and THE MALL..And the MMA wants a tax break..give me a break.Like Tim said lets admit what a mistake the mall was and stop throwing money at it.

Aug 12, 2008, 11:39am Permalink
Charlie Mallow

Dr. Chess, I just read your letter in the paper. For such an educated person you really do not have a clue as to my involvement in your dealings with the city. I have NO part in your discussions with the city. That is not my role. It's hard for me to understand my "interference". My only role so far has been to tell other council people to stay on the sidelines as well.

I do understand you don't want that. You are looking to pull politics into this. Sorry, you are losing the public relations battle as well. It's not a good idea to sue the city residents. They are the people who keep your business afloat.

Aug 12, 2008, 2:05pm Permalink

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